TA DA! CAT SUMMER LAUNCHES TODAY!
This is a very special launch for me. Though I’ve published other books, this is the first in the sci-fantasy genre. There is something special about sci-fi, at least for me, and to now have one of my stories out there alongside the greats makes me very proud.
I loved science fiction/fantasy from an early age. When other kids were reading Nancy Drew and Black Beauty, I was into Heinlein, Le Guin, Wyndham, Card, Ellison, and Dick. Books like the Hobbit, the Chronicles of Narnia, and Watership Down changed my life.
Fast forward half a century: One bright summer day, I looked out the window at my cat in the garden and thought to myself, “What if…?” That’s when I began writing the Cat Seasons Tetralogy.
There is mainstream sci-fi and fantasy, but Cat Summer winds its way down a different path. The cat characters who embrace the hero’s journey must do it as cats (at least, most of the time…) Lise, the human-trans-feline lead, must embrace the mystical as well as the spiritual in a world she never imagined could exist.
Be warned! Cat Summer is not all cute and furry. Bad things happen and I didn’t sidestep the horror, fear, and grief entailed. There is one part in the book that, no matter how many times I read it, makes me cry every time.
As a writer, this book was amazing! It let me spread the wings of fancy; let me put right wrongs and save the world; let me do research and learn about things they never taught in my school; let me boldly go where no cat has gone before…
An early review:
“…Your use of imagery is vivid. I have a cat-crush on Dominic, and the cockroaches…you really play on a human’s fears. The continuous struggle of good fighting evil, well, it’s frightening–not in the least because so many of the things you’ve written are real.”
— Ramona D. Marek, MS Ed. – Author
What is a book launch without a giveaway? Enter to win a free signed print copy of Cat Summer, hot off the presses!
Giveaway runs from August 28th through September 3rd.
Only US addresses please. Good luck!
Here’s the blurb:
Lise has a special destiny: to help a clowder of sentient cats save the world from an evil older than history itself. It is a terrible battle, but Lise and her feline comrades prevail, putting an end to war, poverty, ignorance and want. The world is a better place.
Or is it?
A century later, it becomes clear that something has been lost. The new civilization produces no artists, no musicians, no scientists, no philosophers. Inertia has taken hold. Lise, now at the end of her life, must join her cat-friends once more to restore the Spark of the Human Spirit, but the goal cannot be reached without sacrifice. Is there enough time left for them to save the world for future generations?
Excerpt from Cat Summer:
The room was dark when Lise awoke. For a moment, she was still in her dreams, the swirling not-quite-there impressions seeping over from the other side. Their content was with her, just out of reach behind a wind-blown blanket of night.
Rolling fields with a stage-prop sky. No dimensions, flat, matte, like a backdrop for a play. A wind passing through dry grass with the sound of insect wings. A soft black presence, oozing across the scene like oil, leaving adoration and terror in its wake. But it was nothing.
Sitting up in bed, Lise shook off her sleep-filled wanderings. Her mind was clear now, completely cognizant. She felt strong and alive, free from daytime distraction and acutely aware of things she would ordinarily have let pass by.
She sighed, inhaling the clear summer breeze that floated in through the open window. Sleep was out of the question. Tossing off the quilt, she rose. Her feet touched the silky carpet. Her slippers lay nearby but she ignored them. The night was warm, her body comfortable just the way it was.
For some reason, she didn’t find it strange to walk naked from the room. She was alone in the big house—no one to see—but the thought never entered her mind. Her bathrobe remained at the foot of the bed, forgotten.
Lise paused by the open window, feeling the air brush across her body, smelling it as if it held clues, hints, and secrets of the hidden universe outside. She breathed deeply, allowing the delicious life-giving vapor fill her lungs. Things were going on out there in the wide night world. Like energy, it sizzled on the tip of her tongue.
Didn’t snakes smell with their tongues? she considered briefly. And cats and dogs had a special gland for scent. People got the short end of the stick when it came to the senses.
The passing contemplation slipped away unresolved, leaving Lise staring, quiet-minded, down at the garden below. In the moonlight, she could pick out the luminescent spikes of Oriental lilies against the dark of the garage and the tiny pinpoints of daisies in the edging. It was one of those rare and glorious nights when everything was perfect. Temperature, texture, even the silent sky with its occasional sparkling planet throve with cosmic symmetry. It called to her secret soul; she must go out in it.
Down the narrow staircase she skipped, feeling lean and light as a thistle seed. This seemed totally natural though somewhere in the back of her mind lurked the vague remembrance of heaviness and discomfort, anxiety and tension, all the misery standard in the human machine. But that was another place and time; this was the real girl, the life force inside the trap of humanity, strong, quick, and blissfully unafraid.
The living room was veiled in darkness as she opened the hall doorway but in spite of the murk, she could see. Of course, it was her house—she designed it, arranged it, maintained it. No surprise she could navigate its twists and turns with eyes closed, but there was no need. Whether it was the moonlight falling in glimmering shafts from the high windows or something more elusive, objects stood out bright as crystal. This was not light as Lise knew it—those clear harsh rays that blaze down from outside—but something subtler. An inner glow, as if each article had a luminescence of its own.
Without giving this phenomenon a second thought, Lise started toward the back door but paused when she realized she wasn’t alone. On the overstuffed couch, wedged in between a hillock of throw pillows, lounged Percy, a round-bodied kink-tailed tuxedo cat whose ice-green eyes and luxuriant fur spoke of his roots in the forests of Norway. The elderly feline liked that place and often slept there when he was not on the prowl. Finding him like that was nothing new.
On the carpet nearby, however, stood someone else—a great orange tabby Lise had never seen before. The tabby stalked toward her, halting at her feet. His eyes, like yellow lamp globes, seemed to quiz her innermost being.
“Who are you?” Lise asked as she bent down to pet the stranger.
“I am Evermore Artair Eckx,” the tabby replied, rubbing his blunt head against Lise’s proffered hand, then retreating to arm’s length, just out of reach as cats do. “But you can call me Tom.”
Lise was taken aback. She had heard him speak as clearly as anyone, but how could that be? Cats didn’t talk!
At least, they had never talked to her before.
“What did you say?” she gasped in amazement. Tom chased an itch on his flank and blinked innocently.
Lise turned her questions to her own companion, Percy, but he was napping. Both animals were thoroughly cat-like now; she must have been mistaken. That’s what I get for wandering around in the middle of the night when I should be safe in bed, she mused.
“Okay, kitties,” she said for her own satisfaction. “If you’re going to ignore me, I’m leaving.” The chirp of crickets was irresistible, calling her outside. Once again, she started for the back door, then turned. “And I think you should come, too,” she told the tabby stranger. “You don’t live here, you know.”
“In time. In time,” the orange cat purred back, and she could swear she saw one of the golden eyes wink.
There was no doubt in her mind he had spoken. Both felines were staring at Lise with an intensity that stopped her in her tracks.
“What’s with you two?” she asked, rather too loudly, as if the sound of her own voice could exorcize whatever demons were creating this hallucinatory chat. It must have worked, because again, the cats were silent as space.
Finally, Tom rose and stretched, first his front legs, then his back, one at a time. Lise recognized the familiar cat-aerobic. It was what cats did before they went away.
Suddenly, Lise felt a terrible sense of loss, as if she were letting something very important pass her by.
“Wait, kitty!” she called, running to the kitchen for the little tin of treats. She shook the can, rattling the hard bits inside, and instantly both cats were at her feet. Lise tipped the can onto the linoleum and received purrs of appreciation. She knelt and stroked them as they ate. The warmth of their fur was comforting and the strange feeling of sorrow began to ebb.
“Is that good?” she cooed.
“Yes, very,” and “Thank you so much,” came the polite responses.
“You’re welcome,” she began, then caught herself. “Hey, wait a minute.”
But the cats’ attentions were elsewhere. They spoke to each other now, sometimes in throaty mews and murmurs, and sometimes, Lise could swear they used human words. Either way, she seemed able to understand all they said.
“So what do you think?” Percy posed.
“Good eats,” Tom answered, chowing down a few more morsels.
“About her, I mean,” Percy insisted. “I have come to believe she is She Who.”
“Of course you’d feel that way— she’s your person. We of the Higher Order often develop strong ties with our cohabitors. To treat them without a modicum of loyalty would be rude. But She Who? You don’t think you might be just a bit biased?”
“I do not think so,” Percy declared. “I have been watching her for some time now. She is perfect.”
“Too big.” Tom shook his furry head like a lion. “And too clumsy. She could never make her way in our World. Why, I bet she can’t even catch a mouse.” Having confirmed that the food was gone, he stalked away, tail lashing.
“She will learn,” Percy argued. “She is smart. And if her resolve is strong, the size can adjust.”
“What if her resolve isn’t strong enough? We have only a single chance. What if she quits, or fails halfway through? We need to know she can complete the task.”
Percy moved to join the tabby. Sitting like mirrored statues, they scrutinized the girl.
Lise’s mind was flying. The pair had spoken like people, but even though she was looking right at them, she couldn’t see their sly cat lips move, couldn’t detect any sign that they used their mouths to create the sounds she heard. Was it telepathy? Intuition? Her own personal insanity?
And what were they talking about? Size and strength and tasks to be fulfilled? It sounded like something out of a fairy tale. What could it mean?
“Unless we’re sure, we should wait,” Tom declared. “Wait till the next Tri-Night. We can’t risk gambling on this furless hulk.”
“Hey!” Lise protested but her objection was ignored.
“If we wait, we will remain bonded to Seh. How many of us will suffer, even die the final death and cross Beyond at the hands of its minions? I do not know about you, but I would rather not see what will happen if we do not move the plan forward. Besides,” Percy went on, “what if Seh fulfills the prophecy? Then we will be trapped forever.”
Tom frowned. “But can she do it?” he asked with quiet challenge.
“She is here,” Percy replied cryptically. “Is that not enough?”
Lise stood rigid as a redwood. Her mind was clicking off reasons why this couldn’t be happening, but in her heart, she knew better. Her sanity told her to flee, but her feet refused to move; she was already too invested. As much as she might like to run back to bed and pretend it was all a dream, she wanted answers even more. Was it curiosity—the feline addiction—or something darker? Something non-human was surely at work.
“Who’s Seh?” she put to the pair.
Percy turned his head toward Evermore Tom and squeezed his eyes in a cat smile. “See? She is already taking interest.”
Tom didn’t commit on the matter, instead, swiveling his soft marmalade ears like radarscopes. From outside came the far-off whistle of a train.
“We don’t have much time, Parsifal. This is the Commencement of Tri-Night and the hours are short.”
“Yes, we must go.” Percy rose and padded over to Lise. “You must be brave, Cohabitor. We depend upon you.”
That said, he sauntered to the cat door under the sink with his usual swagger, giving only a momentary glance toward his food bowl on the rug by the stove. Tom followed, tail like a banner. As he was about to nose his way through the flap, he turned and skewered Lise with his golden gaze.
“Are you coming, person?” he asked.
“Coming? Coming where?”
The cat pranced on ballerina feet. “The way has been cleared, and all is in order.”
“But…” Lise sputtered, “how?”
The big cat disappeared through the door. “Listen,” she heard him call back, “and follow.”
Listen? she mused. Listen to what? But in spite of her doubts and a pang of better judgment, she tuned her ears to the great hum of the world.
At first, all she heard was the buzz of the city—the distant crash of garbage trucks; the passing of an occasional car—but suddenly, she picked out other sounds. The flutter of a moth’s wings; the rasp of a wood-boring beetle in the old stump by the gate; the yowl of a cat.
The chorus of meows crescendoed into a wild wail that called to her pagan soul. Taking a deep breath, Lise dropped to all fours as effortlessly as if she were born to it. She gave a guttural inhuman cry, and dove whiskers-first into the open, living night.
Special thanks to Fire Star Press for taking a chance on this cat saga!